By Julie M. Lucas

NAS Jacksonville
Public Affairs Specialist

Exposure to sulfuric acid at high concentrations leads to immediate and severe irritation of the eyes, respiratory tract and mucous membranes. During a chemical spill exercise at Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) June 13, two personnel became victims from the pretend exposure.

"In this scenario, the main focus will be on the fire department, as they will have a chance to demonstrate their skills during a chemical spill," said NAS Jax Training Officer Jim Butters.

The scenario involved a driver of a truck loaded with sulfuric acid barrels headed for the water treatment facility, located along Patrol Road that runs to the north of the runway. The vehicle is struck by a smaller government truck, causing one of the driver's to be thrown from the vehicle and the other to be rendered unconscious. The victims, portrayed by ABE1 Jorge Avila and AWR1 Matthew Moody, were given information regarding their medical conditions to assist rescuers. During the collision, two barrels fall from the truck, causing a chemical spillage.

According to Butters, this type of incident is realistic in nature because that kind of chemical does get delivered to base.

First on the scene was MA3 Imani Solomon, accompanied by MA1 Michael Langehennig, who served as an observer. From the patrol car, Solomon didn't roll down her window and used a guide to determine what chemicals could have possibly been spilled from signs placed on the back of the truck. As Solomon determined the chemicals, she contacted the fire department for more assistance at the scene.

"We had it built into the scenario that if she hadn't recognized the potential hazard, she also could have become a casualty," said Butters.

After the fire department arrived, personnel donned breathing apparatuses while they did an initial check of the situation. When it was determined there were people with injuries, additional First Coast Navy Fire and Emergency Department personnel assisted. A decontamination wash was set up to clean off personnel as another part of the training scenario.

"We really value this kind of training as a department," said Firefighter Charlie Campos. According to Campos, during chemical spills, a minimum of 15 fire personnel are required on scene.

During the drill, the base's giant voice system is used to announce that the base is in training mode with announcements continuing throughout the exercise. Following the scenario, participants gather and discuss what when well during the exercise and ideas for real-world situations.